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Massena Memorial Hospital getting closer to opening Andrews Street site

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MASSENA — Massena Memorial Hospital CEO Charles F. Fahd II said the hospital is getting closer to being able to open the Seaway Orthopedics facility, 271 Andrews St., purchased in 2012.

“We are very close to hopefully hearing about the final approval processes from the Department of Health regarding the acquisition of the Seaway practice,” Mr. Fahd said. “We have two contingencies remaining, and both of those contingencies appear to have been satisfied and submitted to the Department of Health. We should hear back from them shortly.”

Hospital spokeswoman Tina R. Corcoran said the facility is waiting for the certificate of need to be approved for an in-building therapeutic pool that patients would use for rehabilitation.

“The contingency has to do with the therapeutic pool. There are issues that the Department of Health wants to make sure that it meets. I think one of the issues is a lot of hospitals do not have therapeutic pools. We’re treading different waters. It’s a learning curve,” she said.

She said Senior Director of Ancillary Services Mark P. Brouillette has “been working diligently” on getting that resolved.

“We’re hoping it all comes to fruition in the very near future,” she said.

A typical certificate of need process takes from six to 12 months, according to Ms. Corcoran. But Mr. Fahd said, because of the length of time this one has taken, he believes it’s the most difficult project he has ever worked on.

“This is going farther out,” Ms. Corcoran said.

Hospital officials announced in January 2012 that they planned to purchase the Seaway Orthopedics building for $2.95 million to expand their services. The Massena Town Board voted unanimously that month to allow the municipally-owned hospital to purchase the building, as well as the MRI and physical therapy equipment inside.

The 14,000-square-foot building was owned by Dr. Bedros Bakirtzian, who maintains a private orthopedic practice and operates physical therapy and MRI divisions out of the same building.

The hospital plans to take over the MRI and physical therapy and the “vast majority” of those divisions’ employees, Mr. Fahd said in January 2012.

Dr. Bakirtzian will maintain his orthopedic practice separate from the hospital and will not become an MMH employee. He will pay a monthly lease on 3,300 square feet of office space and another 2,100 square feet of apartment space for personal use.

“Dr. Bakirtzian will remain in his office. He is still a physician affiliated with the hospital. He will be renting space from us. We will own the whole building,” Ms. Corcoran said.

Hospital officials had been in negotiations for two years to reach a deal on the property. The sale was contingent upon the approval of a certificate of need from the New York State Department of Health. They received the certificate of need approval for the purchase of the building in late 2012.

This acquisition is part of a long-term interest of the hospital that will allow the hospital’s Physical Therapy and Seaway Orthopedics’ Rehabilitation Programs to complement one another and ensure the hospital is taking the right steps in meeting the community needs in rehabilitation.

“It will still be used for outpatient physical therapy like it is now,” Ms. Corcoran said.

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